rates fall below the 7 percent mark, it is boom time for refinancing.
Still, for every person who's calling to refinance, there
are probably two or three other people who aren't paying attention.
"Realistically, a vast majority of people
close their loans, make their payments and don't worry about
it again," says Bob Cannon of BancMortgage Financial
Corp. "They don't refinance when they should be looking
Those people should look again. Refinancing
a mortgage means looking at all your options -- not just the
interest rate. You also may want to look at refinancing if:
You have a jumbo mortgage and can switch to a conventional
You want to shorten the number of years on your loan.
Jumbo to conventional
Getting rid of a "jumbo" loan can save, says Bankrate.com
financial analyst Greg McBride. Jumbo loans are those that
are above the limits set by Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae --
the quasi-government agencies that buy and sell mortgages
in the secondary market. They trade in "conventional"
mortgages below that limit. Jumbo mortgages are those above
that figure, and they carry a slightly higher interest rate.
McBride gives the example of a homeowner who
took out a jumbo mortgage for $270,000 when the maximum conforming
single-family mortgage was $260,000 - a few months later it
was raised to $300,700. The loan was for 30 years at 8.1 percent.
"The monthly payment," says McBride,
"would be $2,000. (If rates are lower when) you refinance,
that loan now counts as a conforming loan so you can get the
lower conforming rate. (If the rate) is 6.92 percent, you
save $218 on the monthly payment. Even if the refinancing
costs you 2 percent of the loan, you can break even in approximately
Making the jump
Jumping from jumbo to conventional means getting a lower rate.
In the example above, McBride says, 25 percent of the savings
is because the homeowner refinanced from a jumbo to a conforming,
while 75 percent is due to lower interest rates.
Go from 30 to 15 -- consider the options
Suppose you bought a 30-year fixed rate mortgage seven years
ago for $125,000 at 9 percent? Your monthly payment is $1,005.78
and your balance is $117,000. You'd love to knock down that
9 percent a couple of notches, but instead of refinancing
the 30-year mortgage at a lower interest rate, McBride suggests
going for a slightly higher monthly payment and refinancing
to a 15-year mortgage.
"(If) the national average is 6.41 percent,
your monthly payment would be $1013.42, but you'll pay off
the home eight years sooner. You're not looking at a significant
change in payment, but you are looking at a big savings in
interest," says McBride.
Mature mortgages defy refi
For those who have old mortgages, the strategy is different.
If you took out a $100,000 loan 25 years ago at 9 percent,
your balance would be just under $40,000 and it would be tempting
to refinance. But McBride says it might not be worth it.
"At this point you're paying so little
interest. If you refinance, what does it do to your payback
period? If you refinance from 9 percent to 7 percent it shortens
your payback period by three months. It saves you $2,400,
but that's not factoring any costs you may incur for going
through the refinancing."
Article continued at http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/mtga/20010405c.asp?prodtype=mtg